WASHINGTON, March 19, 2013 - On the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a statement today honoring the sacrifices made by service members, their families and the Iraqi people.
Here is the text of the secretary's statement:
This week marks the ten year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. While that conflict has been brought to an end, we must never lose sight of the tremendous sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform made during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Every one of the more than one million service members that deployed to Iraq, often for multiple tours of duty, deserves our highest praise and deepest debt of gratitude. They served with valor and met every challenge - from the streets of Fallujah and Sadr City to outposts in Ramadi and Mosul - always watching out for their brothers and sisters in arms.
The American people will always honor the sacrifices of the 4,475 U.S. service members who died in Iraq, and the more than 32,000 who came home wounded. Every man and woman who served in Iraq carries with them the scars of war. As we remember these quiet heroes this week we are also reminded of their families and their sacrifices, as we also honor and thank them.
Our reflections include the Iraqi people - the Iraqi soldiers and police officers who died alongside our own, the men and women who were caught in the crossfire, and those who still struggle today to secure and govern their nation. The Iraqi people will determine the future of Iraq and the United States will continue to support their efforts for a peaceful, secure, free, and prosperous nation.